Big Sky Connection


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November 10, 2017

Eric Tegethoff

BILLINGS, Mont. - How does the country move toward renewable energy in a way that benefits working families? That's one issue being addressed at the 46th annual Northern Plains Resource Council meeting on Saturday. 

Keynote speaker Tyson Slocum is the energy program director for Public Citizen, a consumer advocacy group. He says Public Citizen is interested in promoting energy resources that are affordable, reliable, and sustainable - and that renewable energy is now meeting that criteria.

"We want to make sure that we are encouraging low-cost renewable energy deployment," he says. "And because of technological innovations, that's what's happening right now, in energy markets across the United States."

In Montana, he says prospects look especially good for wind energy. While wind power in the state now provides enough energy for about 200,000 homes, the Department of Energy predicts it could produce enough for 6.4 million homes by 2030.

Slocum says jobs in coal are decreasing because of market forces - in large part, due to the growing renewable-energy sector. But he says there are ways to ensure that coal communities aren't left behind.

"We owe an obligation to those communities that are heavily reliant on extractive industries, to try and focus new investments in those communities for manufacturing of renewable energy resources," he stresses. "That said, there are an awful lot of jobs in the renewable-energy sector."

The Northern Plains meeting is a two-day event starting Friday, held in downtown Billings. Other meeting topics include climate change, accessibility to clean energy and "jobs versus the environment: a false choice." 

Find more on how to attend at